Cicero Residents of the North Syracuse Central School District will head to the polls next month to vote on a $2 million referendum to renovate the Michael Bragman Athletic Complex at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, as well as make improvements to the high school’s security.
The project, which will have no local tax impact, will cost a total of $2,020,000. The local share of $302,000 would come out of the district’s C-NS Athletic Complex Reserve Fund, which was approved by district voters on Oct. 14, 1998, according to Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan.
“Basically, it was a formal proposition in which the voters designated that funds could be set aside for the replacement of the turf,” Keegan said. “The source of those funds was the revenue received from the exclusive pouring rights contract we had with Coca-Cola at the venue. It also had a maximum on it; we couldn’t contribute more than $250,000. From the perspective of the taxpayers, you don’t want it to be a bottomless pit.”
With interest, the fund has grown over the last 15 years to $304,000. That fund, along with anticipated state aid totaling $1,718,000, will cover the costs of the project. The project includes necessary repairs to the athletic complex next to the high school, including replacing the deteriorating turf, resurfacing the track and replacing the drainage work under the field.
The referendum comes at a time when the district has undergone extensive budget cuts over the last five years, trimming more than 200 teachers, as well as numerous athletic and extracurricular programs. But the money in the reserve fund could not be used for programs or staffing.
“Because the voters designated that money had to be used for the turf, we can’t use it for anything else,” Keegan said.
And the turf certainly needs the repair. According to the district’s website, the turf has long outlasted its life expectancy of eight years. At this point, despite the district’s best efforts, the field has deteriorated to the point that maintenance costs have more than quadrupled.